New York topped the list at 56.5% of families without cars.

The car was one of the icons of post-World War II Americana. Soldiers came home from the war, bought an American car with as much chrome as they could afford and moved to the suburbs to raise a family. A new study from University of Michigan's Transportation Research institute indicates, however, that American car consumption may have reached its peak and is now falling.

The study looked at the rate of households that do not own a car from 2005 to 2012, and then examined this rate in America's 30 largest cities between 2007 and 2012. In 2007, 8.7% of US households did not own a car, and that figure grew to 9.2% in 2012. However, in the largest cities, the rate of families without cars is much higher. From 2007 to 2012, families in 21 of the 30 largest cities decreased their car ownership. The six largest cities all had car-less rates above 30%. New York topped the list at 56.5% of families without cars.

For commuters, this should be greeted as great news. It means fewer cars on the road, which can contribute to lighter traffic. Auto enthusiasts also get more open roads to enjoy. However, for automakers it means that competition will get even tighter, and they will have to fight that much harder for every sale to appeal to a smaller pool of buyers. Nobody is saying that the American love affair with the car is dead, but maybe we have just entered into the comfortable period of the marriage.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 156 Comments
      express2day
      • 1 Year Ago
      These types of studies and conclusions are meaningless when they cover periods of significant economic decline. It wouldn't be surprising to see an opposite trend as the economy turns itself around.
      Cool Disco Dan
      • 1 Year Ago
      So when the economy tanks and stays down less people buy cars.
        nitrostreet
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cool Disco Dan
        I'm sure researchers will soon pick up on the strange parallel that less people are also buying houses.....hmmmm, very strange
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @nitrostreet
          um... they are just downsizing into apartments and these new 'tiny homes' because they care about the environment!! right :)
      rex
      • 1 Year Ago
      AJP is correct. Totally disregards cost of ownership in large cities and our high unemployment/underemployment.
      AJP
      • 1 Year Ago
      For me it is a matter of simple math. My income has shrank in recent years and I would have to live in my car if I owned one.
      uncle1950
      • 1 Year Ago
      Did you ever think that car PRICES $$ may be the real reason for the change in car ownership? Oh , don't forgrt insurance, sky rocket repair bills,lack of wage increases,and GAS $$$....just saying!!
      David Sessoms
      • 1 Year Ago
      Between the prices of cars and an ecomony in it's 6th year of dismal performance with a lot of workers having their wages frozen equals a lack of luster in the higher priced automobiles and homes...The dip is probably to much for either to absorb given it's fast onslaught....Just saying....
      Ken
      • 1 Year Ago
      100% depends on where you live! I am 9 miles from my job. It is an easy 15 minute drive (30 minutes if there is a crash or bad weather) while I listen to NPR. Without a car? It is 2+ hours on a bus, where I would cover over 40 miles and have to make two transfers. If I lived in NYC, yeah, I could see not having a car. Where I live now, not a chance. One issue is even if you do not own a car and drive (say, NYC), what happens if you want to visit a place where you need to drive? If your skills behind the wheel are not good, you are going to risk yourself and others when you get behind the wheel. We live in a big, sparsely populated nation. To really have access to all of it, you not only need a car, but some decent skills to be safe to yourself and others.
        davido
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ken
        "what happens if you want to visit a place where you need to drive?" If you have a license, you rent a car. When I lived in NYC I knew a lot of people who had never learned how to drive and even more who didn't have cars. The biggest problem in having a car in NYC is finding a place to park when you drive anywhere within the city and finding a place to park when you drive back home. Not to mention the time it takes. Public transit is usually faster.
      Michael
      • 1 Year Ago
      Personal vehicles offer tremendous convenience in the absence of choking traffic, so I understand the trend. The model personal cars require, however, carries heavy costs. 'Free' parking is expected where most people do their shopping, even though it has real costs (land, paved surfaces, extra heat in summer). In many environments, there simply isn't room to 'just add more lanes.' When traffic is heavy in my city of 100,000 residents, it takes almost as long to cross town (10 sq. miles) in a car as it does on a bike, and the climate here makes bike travel pleasant here 300 days a year. I enjoy driving (maybe 6k miles a year), but not when too many other vehicles make it suck, and that's true just about every workday, so I bike the 2 miles. When recruiters contact me, saying there's a new gig is 'just a short drive to [15 miles away]' and I have to tell them that they just don't understand...
      William
      • 1 Year Ago
      I get it. I drive and love it, but it is expensive. And when I travel into downtown Portland, I always take the train to avoid the hassle and expense of traffic and parking. Not sure why this is a surprise to anyone, or evidence of bad politics. Some people just don't want or need to drive. Less pollution, less dependence on foreign oil, and less traffic for those of us who LOVE driving. Not understanding how any of those things are negative, or why some see it as some sort of decline of American culture.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @William
        I used to live in Beaverton and would head out to Portland fairly often. You should look into an electric bicycle. It's an even cheaper way to get in and out of the city if you're looking to save some $. The MAX is rather expensive these days, after all.
          john96xlt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I used to live in Beaverton, too. Aloha, to be exact. My friends and I would all pile into one car when we went down to Portland for a night.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Aw man. I really miss living there now because we would sometimes do that too :) Dreary weather, but gobs of fun in the summer.
      Trent
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love my cars but if I could find a way to get around faster for cheaper then I would do it too.
      z28ssx
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wish they would split out down state and upsate NY.
      jkstang78
      • 1 Year Ago
      New York topped the list at 56.5% of families without cars REALLY?????? Have they seen the traffic in NY especially lower NY. You can sit in Rush hour traffic everyday of the week on Long Island. The traffic is absolutely ridiculous around here and has only gotten worst over the years.
        Jim R
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jkstang78
        Nobody drives in NYC. There's too much traffic.
        789dm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jkstang78
        Most of the cars that you mention have NJ, PA, CT, TLC or commerciail lic plate. Do you even drive in the city? Most cars that have NY plates came from nicer place like Queens, Brooklyn Long Island, n upstate NY.
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